Monday, June 7, 2010

Keeping Track of the Electrical Circuits

I've been making a point of keeping track of the electrical circuits as I'm doing the wiring.  I don't ever want to stand in front of my breaker panel and wonder "Where the hell does THIS wire go?"

When I run a wire down to the breaker panel, I wrap three pieces of colored electrical tape around the end of the wire.  At the other end of the wire... where the wire goes into the first electrical box of that particular circuit, I put the same colored tape on the side of the electrical box. 

In the photo below, you can see I've got red/green/green on the box.  Down at the breaker panel, I've got the same red/green/green marking on the wire that feeds this box.  If I have to do any troubleshooting, I won't have to trace the wires back to see where they go.  Also, when it comes time to label all the circuits on the breaker box, I'll know exactly which one is which.


While I'm on the topic of colors, you can see in the photo below that the wire I've used for this outlet box is yellow instead of white (visible at the back of the box and also below it).  The yellow wire is a heavier guage (12 guage) than the white wire in the photo above (14 guage).  This outlet box below is one of the kitchen counter outlets, and the Electrical Code requires that kitchen counter outlets be wired with 12 guage wire. 

Using different colored wire for different guages just makes it easier to know which spool of wire to grab when running a circuit.  It also makes it easier for the inspector to tell if you've used the correct wire for a particular circuit.

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